Imagini ale paginilor


Legislature, for regulating the financial importance, which he would not go into. affairs of the colony. With respect to the He was enabled, however, to state, that complaints of the petitioners, his hon. means had been taken to render the apfriend had admitted, that the judicial pointments to it more popular, and to system had been improved. The first gratify the people. He trusted these meaobject of every Government ought to be, sures would be sufficient, combined with the impartial administration of justice; other alterations which were in progress, and to obtain which, it was necessary to remedy the defects which he allowed that those who were to dispense it should existed in the present constitution of the be wholly independent of the executive Assemblies. If experience should prove power. Such an independence had been that these alterations were not sufficient, completely effected by the present Govern- there would be no serious indisposition on An Act had passed the Colonial the part of Government to consider whether Legislature, at the recommendation of the the council ought not only to be increased noble Lord at the head of the Colonial in number, but that some modification of Department, by which a permanent salary the principle of its appointment should was established for the judicial officers, prevail. He trusted, this short explanaand their situations were made to depend tion would be satisfactory to the House wholly upon good behaviour, similar to and to his hon. friend, for he would declare, the Judges in this country, who were in conclusion, that the noble Lord at the wholly independent of the Crown. They head of the Colonial Department had were not to exercise any political authority distinctly recognized the principle, that whatever except the Chief Judge, who the local Legislatures of the Canadas were was to be a member of the Council, be- the best judges of the principles to be cause it was desirable to have a member adopted in the government of that country, competent to give legal opinions if that and of all matters connected with its inwas found necessary. With respect to ternal economy. the appropriation of the estate attached to the Jesuits' College, that estate had never been diverted from its original purposes of education, and, in future, it was to be exclusively devoted to these pur-medy these grievances never went any poses, under the superintendence of the further. On nearly the last day of the local assembly. Passing by other matters Session, they began to discuss affairs of of detail which were in course of being vast importance to the colonies, when it remedied, he would beg to add a few was evident no useful amelioration of their words on the subject of waste lands, and condition could be expected. Since the the method by which they had hitherto report of the Committee of 1828, which been managed. He had no scruple in de-contained a vast body of useful informclaring his opinion, that an improved sys- taion, little or nothing had been practem could be devised, but he must add, tically done for the improvement of the that the fault of this arrangement did Canadas. It was wholly impossible not wholly rest with the Government, for the local Legislature to touch many but was to be ascribed to the incorrect of the grievances. The clergy reserves, notions entertained as to the best manner for instance, were appropriated under an of disposing of this species of property. Act of Parliament, and therefore one of These incorrect notions were also shared the most crying evils could not be lessened by the local assemblies. So long as free by the local authorities, in the smallest grants of land were made, he believed it degree. With respect to the legislative to be impossible but that some abuses council, he very much doubted whether must exist, and the only effectual remedy the degree of popular feeling infused into was an improvement in the system of it in the manner prescribed by the noble making grants. The only other question Lord, would be sufficient to make it work with which he would trouble the House well. He fully agreed with the hon. Genregarded the composition of the legislative tleman (Mr. Labouchere), that it was an bodies. He was free to admit, that the absurdity to attempt to adhere to the legislative council was not formed in the forms of the British Constitution in the most unexceptionable manner, but how it government of the Canadas. He did not was to be improved was a question of great mean to doubt the good intentions of the

Mr. George Robinson said, the noble. Lord had dealt largely in profession, but that was one of the serious complaints of the colonists, that the endeavours to re

noble Lord at the head of the Colonial | which he undertook to censure the obDepartment, and of those connected with servations of his hon. friend. The hon. that department, but he should really be Gentleman did not seem to be at all aware better satisfied if they professed less and that the colonial institutions in connexion did more. with the Established Church in Lower Canada, weakened instead of supporting that Church. The Roman Catholic was the established religion of Lower Canada, and had always been so; and, therefore, the only question was, whether the people should have the religion they liked best, or be forced to adopt one that other persons considered better for them. He admitted this case did not apply to Upper Canada. But the hon. member for Dundalk had equally misinterpreted or misunderstood the sentiments of his hon. friend with regard to the Established Church in this country. His hon. friend had never

Mr. James E. Gordon said, he felt called upon to make a few observations upon one subject, which the hon. Member who presented the petition introduced at the close of his speech. He understood, that the hon. Gentleman recommended the establishment of a religious equality in the Canadas. If, by that sentiment, he meant an equal freedom and protection in the worship of the Almighty to all sects and parties, he fully agreed with him; but if he meant the equal support of all sects, he protested against such a doctrine. He could by no means understand on what principle a Protestant State should equal-meant, and certainly did not say, that, ize religion on such terms in its colonies. because the Established Church was the If any hon. Gentleman considered that the religion of the majority of the people, that Church of England should be discon- was the cause of his attachment to it. All nected from the State, let him bring for- he meant to say was, that such a case ward a proposition to accomplish his pur- formed a strong ground for the Legislature pose, and he for one would be ready to to support it—a reason which was wholly meet him; but while the Church establish- inapplicable to the state of things in ment was part and parcel of the law of Canada, where the great majority of the the land, he could not comprehend upon people professed a different religion. what principle hon. Gentlemen indulged themselves in talking of the equalization of religion. The hon. Member said, he supported the Church of England in this country simply because it was the religion of the great majority of the people, without, as it appeared, caring for the truth or principle of it. From such latitudinarian opinions he entirely dissented. He sup-lieved that Church was a blessing, and ported the Church because he approved of not a burthen, to the country; but its doctrines, and thought it an important he also believed, that the Church was part of the Constitution. He must also made for man, and not man for the protest against being supposed to acquiesce Church. He knew also, that he was in the opinion, that our religious establish- supported by the unanimous opinions of ments in Canada were more extensive than the people of Lower Canada, of all pernecessary. To apply a commercial phrase suasions, with respect to the religious into things of more importance, he believed stitutions of that colony. the supply was not more than equal to the demand.

Petition read.

Mr. Labouchere moved, that it should be printed; and, in doing so, begged leave to observe, that he regretted he should have been misunderstood. He was as firmly attached to the doctrine and discipline of the Church of England as the hon. member for Dundalk. He be

Petition to be printed.

Sir James Mackintosh had listened, with great satisfaction, to the sentiments of the hon. Member who had introduced the petition, and with no less satisfaction had he heard the reply of his noble friend. In most of the opinions advanced in the course of the discussion he agreed, with the exception of those advanced by the hon. Gentleman who had last addressed the House, who evidently was not acquainted with the facts of the case upon

Mr. Hume presented a Petition, signed by 10,000 Freeholders of Upper Canada, praying that the House would take the state of that colony into their most serious consideration-would direct their attention to promote education and religion there-would leave all religious sects to be provided for by their various followers, and would abolish all political distinctions on account of religion. In supporting the prayer of this petition, to which he requested the serious attention of the

House, he must, in the first place, express | most justly, in his opinion, prayed that his great satisfaction at the sentiments the clergymen of the Church of England which the noble Lord had laid down as should be debarred from accepting offices the acting principle of the Government the duties of which were inconsistent with of which he formed a part, with regard to those which properly belonged to the our colonial policy. The noble Lord ad- teachers of religion. The petitioners also mitted, that the House of Commons was particularly prayed, that each sect might not the most fit body to legislate for the have the power, throughout both Upper colonies, but that the parties themselves and Lower Canada, of solemnizing marought to be intrusted with their own legis- riages according to their own peculiar lation, as they must best understand their rites, of which many of them had long own interests. It only required time to been deprived, contrary to the repeated carry that fair and liberal opinion into full and unanimous votes of the House of effect among the colonies. The colony Assembly. He was, on this part of the of Canada was particularly deserving of subject, very happy to acknowledge, that the best treatment from England; for in this grievance would be removed by a the hour of difficulty and danger, the in- Bill which had lately received his Majesty's habitants had most nobly come forward assent. They also prayed, that the charter to defend their country from the attacks of of King's College might be modified, so as the United States, and had defended it to put an end to all sectarian tests, which successfully, when the troops sent out had the effect of excluding all but memfrom this country would not have been bers of the Church of England from the alone sufficient to cope with the enemy. College Council. At present, men were He could assure the hon. member for Dun-compelled to sign the Thirty-nine Articles dalk, that the sentiments entertained by before they could enter the Council; and that hon. Member were not those entertain-it was the necessity of doing that, which ed by the inhabitants of Canada, who, in the petitioners wished to have abolished. this petition, had distinctly expressed their He considered this part of the prayer most hope that all religious sects might be reasonable and proper, and that the inhaplaced on a footing of equality. When he bitants of Upper Canada had a just ground recalled to the remembrance of the House of complaint against such a provision. the feuds and broils, the wars and civil Now that all religious disabilities had been discord, the bloodshed and cruelties, which done away with at home, he hoped the had arisen in every State of Europe from same measure of justice and liberality religious dissension, he thought the pro- would be dealt out to the colonies. With priety of this part of the petition could respect to the appropriation of land to the not be doubted. The petitioners also ex- clergy, the petitioners prayed, that the pressed their hopes, that all ministers of land hitherto exclusively applied to the religion should be removed from places of purposes of the Church Establishment political power in the colony. It had might be placed at the disposal of Governbeen said, that the greatest number of ment, for the purpose of being applied to the Ministers of religion was composed the education of all classes of the colonists. of members of the Church of England. He fully concurred with the petitioners in It was proved that that was not the thinking that this was absolutely necesfact; for, in 1828, out of 236 minis- sary, and he had no doubt the House ters of religion there were only thirty- would be of the same opinion when they one members of the Church of England; considered that, in every province in the and the complaint of the petitioners was, United States surrounding Upper Canada that these thirty-one engrossed all the on all sides, provision was made by the places of profit and power in the colony legislatures for the education of every child so far as the Church was concerned. without any distinction of sex or religious That these few pastors should be elevated sect. By the legislatures of these provinces above all other sects, and be formed into a it was provided generally, that wherever dominant Church, must naturally give there were fifty adjacent houses, or even great offence; for the other parties, who huts, a school must be kept open for six were the most numerous, justly considered months in the year, and wherever the their clergy neglected and degraded by number increased to double that number their exclusion from offices. To put an of dwellings a school must be kept open end to all rivalry of this sort, the petitioners during the whole year. Some plan re

Hume) considered the late Government had not acted with sufficient liberality to the Canadas, and thereby had caused them to be more dependent on the parent State, which had entailed a heavy expense and burthen upon this country. He had always maintained, that if colonies could not be maintained with advantage to themselves or the mother country, the sooner they parted from each other the better; but he never said the Canadas could not be made most useful to this country, and, at the same time be most prosperous in themselves. He believed, under proper management, both would be found quite practicable, and therefore he hailed, with great satisfaction, the appearance of a more liberal system. He would conclude by requesting permission to bring up the petition, and he would add, that one more replete with argument and sound sense he had never had the honour of presenting to the attention of the House.

sembling this ought to be extended to all religions ought not to have political our North American provinces. Having power; that matrimony should be solemnthus gone through the principal points of ized according to the faith of the parties; the petitions, as he saw a right hon. Gen. that the charter of King's College should tleman (Sir George Murray) present, who be revised, and the College opened to all lately presided over the Colonial Depart- denominations of people; and that the ment, he ventured to press the remarks he clergy reserved lands ought to be approprihad made upon his attention, as he (Mr.ated for the purpose of general education, were the wants and the prayers of the petitioners, and the temper and discretion with which they were urged gave them additional force. As to the latter part of their prayer, the clergy reserves, he thought, when it was recollected that they amounted to 3,500,000 acres of land, which would yield an annual income of 350,000l. for a century to come, the bare statement was so monstrous that the very fact of declaring it, was sufficient to prove that a different appropriation of this enormous quantity of land was required; and to what better purpose could it be applied than for the promotion of general education? When to this it was added, that, since 1828, nothing had been done to ameliorate and improve the institutions of the colony, although Canada had been, during the intervening years, largely increasing in population and wealth, when approximation to another State with habits opinions, and interests similar to their own, made it necessary that every measure should be taken to satisfy the people; when all this was the case, he must say, if nothing were done, if the same measure of procrastination was continued, Canada, like the present United States might be wearied by neglect, which would be much to be regretted, for she saw around her enough of evidence to assure her, that if she willed a separation it could not be withheld. But although the petitioners might be conscious of this, they rather appealed to the generous sentiments of the Representatives of the British people than to their fears. He could not believe their hopes would be blighted. The same liberality which was loosening the bonds of bigotry and bad government at home, would extend its boon to the happiness and prosperity of the colonies on the other side of the Atlantic.

Mr. Wilks supported the prayer of the petition. He agreed in every point with the petitioners, and he had no doubt the same sentiments prevailed in the minds of those illustrious statesmen who had recently been the great advocates for the extension of civil liberty in this country, and who must desire to see religious intolerance uprooted from the soil of our colonies. He, therefore, wished to attract their special notice to a petition which sprung from one of the most important of our colonies-which had stood by us through good and evil report, and was ready to relieve this country from all financial charges on its account. The petition was signed by upwards of 10,000 persons of all sects and creeds of Christians, and in furtherance of its prayer the resolutions of the meeting from which it had emanated pronounced it expedient to supply funds for the promotion of religion and education in the provinces generally; that the pastors of all sects might be left to be supported by the offerings of their respective congregations; that all political distinctions on account of religious faith ought to cease; and the ministers of

Sir George Murray said, he should not have addressed the House upon this subject unless he had been directly alluded to by the hon. member for Middlesex, in connexion with his remarks relating to the policy of the late Government with regard to Canada. He trusted the sentiments

they ought to be the property of the State. He had taken no measures, however, towards carrying that opinion into effect, because Acts had already been passed which permitted some portions of these lands to be sold, and as that portion had not been wholly disposed of, there was no occasion for him, of course, to come to Parliament to authorize the sale of other portions. It was at all times his intention to get rid of that part of the Constitution established for Canada in 1791, by which a seventh part of the land was set apart for the Church, because that Church was unable to bring it into cultivation itself, or of letting it to tenants in a country where the object of every man was to be a landed proprietor. The land, therefore, was wholly inefficient for the purposes for which it was granted; further, it became a great and most inconvenient impediment to the progressive improvement of the country, and because the system of giving a large and exclusive endowment to a particular Church was impracticable in those provinces where there were so many and such various sects, and where, in consequence, a spirit of envy and jealousy existed, which went on continually increasing, and which would, no doubt, be ultimately very injurious to the interests of the Church of England. He hoped this explanation would satisfy the House that there was no want of liberal views in the late Government with respect to any of the topics to which the hon. member for Middlesex had called his attention, or that were comprehended in the petition which he had presented.

Mr. George Robinson said, there could be no question but that it was highly im

he had always entertained with regard to the subjects to which this petition referred, were sufficiently well known to the House. He conceived that nothing could be more unfortunate for a State, than a difference of political condition among its citizens on account of a difference in their religious opinions, for nothing could be more foreign to the character of true religion than to be dragged forward and forced to become a party in political strife and contention. He could assure the House, that during the time he held the seals of the Colonial Office, there had been no desire on the part of the late Government to adopt the policy of making one sect dominant over the rest. On the contrary, there was a desire gradually to change the old constitution of the colonies in that respect. He, however, differed from the hon. Member in one respect, for he thought that all sects ought not to be left to provide for their own preachers, but that the Government ought to make some provision for each of the important sects in the country, and endeavour to form some link of connexion with it. Some provision, made in that manner by the Government, would confer a degree of respectability on the sect thus provided for; would connect it in some degree with the State; would prevent the teachers of religion from being wholly dependent on their followers, and thus would prevent them from degenerating into that fervour of religious zeal and enthusiasm which bordered on fanaticism, and which was frequently seen in those who relied for support solely on their power of exciting the feelings of their congregations, teaching, not truth but what they found most to their own interests. It was in con-politic to have a dominant Church in any formity with these principles that pro-colony, and the more so when the members vision was made in Upper Canada, both of that Church formed the minority. The for the Catholic and Presbyterian clergy, disproportion between the Established and with the intention of extending the Church and the Roman Catholics and principle, as it might become proper and Dissenters in Canada was very great, necessary, to the clergy of other Chris- and was every day increasing against the tian sects. He was ready to admit, also, former by the stream of emigration which that he agreed with the hon. Member, that annually poured into Upper Canada from there ought to be some alteration made in Ireland and Scotland. The impolicy of the College charter, so as to destroy the any political distinctions on account of redifferences now existing on religious ac-ligion was the greater when it was known, counts. While he had held the seals of that Canada adjoined the United States, office he had suspended the operation of where no such distinctions were made. that charter, having it in contemplation to Considering the stream of emigration entirely abolish that distinction, and which which was constantly flowing from these he certainly should have done had he con- countries to the colony, it was a matter tinued in place. With respect to the of very grave and serious importance to Clergy Reserves, it was his opinion that prevent these colonies from becoming a

« ÎnapoiContinuă »